Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday, March - It's like a Sat because yesterday and today are snow days!

I changed school districts this year, from Fairfax County to the District of Columbia. Many things are different but the one that stands out right now is reaction to the snow. In Fairfax, a district that included MANY miles, closes school due to a little snow and even for very low temperatures. They simply cannot get the kids to school by bus when winter weather is added to the equation.

DC is another story. My school doesn't have buses. Being an urban school district, many teachers and students use public transportation. The temperatures in the city usually aren't as low as outlying suburbs. So what if it is snowing? We still have places to go and stuff to accomplish.  The most I have enjoyed (yes, I'll admit, I enjoy an unexpected break from my job due to winter weather) is a 2-hour delay.

The snow came at a perfect time for me. I completed my final PARCC Writing about Reading lesson. I have tips to share and an explanation of the Independent Project the kids will work on when NOT completing a PARCC test but I still have Monday and Tuesday. So for me, this was a perfect break.

And how did I spend yesterday? I organized all the students' Writing about Reading papers, I made a spreadsheet to add their grade and comment. I LOVED time to do this! My goal is to type a comment that can be used on the report card NOW so at report card time, I can simply cut and paste and NOT spend every waking weekend hour making all the comments. SO feel good about the system I set up yesterday.

Looking back....
Monday was a 2-hr delay due to the ice storm over the weekend. It was the day to let them try the Research Writing PARCC question. It was the day to let the kids watch the video with headphones. With shorter classes and my Smartboard not working, it didn't go as seamless as I would have liked. But all got a chance to try out this question on the computer. Monday night I made them a homework Scavenger Hunt assignment. I listed all the tools and told them to spend time getting used to these tools.

Then Tuesday and Wed, I gave them 20 minutes each day to work on the Literary Essay PARCC prompt. As we ended each class on Wed, I felt they were ready for this test!! I'm excited for them to show off all they know about reading and writing. I think I prepared them well.

Would I do this same kind of prep next year? DEFINITELY!
I loved using a story they knew (ISH by Peter Reynolds) and writing a story from a different point of view.
I loved spending time talking about HOW TO READ A PROMPT. I think I'd do this FIRST next time.
I loved having them plan and orally share a GROUP Literary Essay using 2 easy stories - Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood. Then I loved seeing them transfer this work to do it independently using ISH and The Dot.

I could have spent more time on the RESEARCH ESSAY but we had just finished the NF writing unit. I think next year I will ask them to prepare a PROMPT...find 2 articles and a video to watch related to a topic (maybe a a group activity) Then THESE can be practice questions for us.

I have to say that I like helping the kids prep for a writing test. I honestly wish it wasn't timed but I'm glad they get assessed in writing!

And I'm glad I get snow days!!

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